It’s a small world now….

Thanks to the ever changing world of technology and social media, it’s become clear that there is no such thing as “six degrees of separation.” Frankly, I think it’s one-two degrees of separation at best. This point was brought home to me a few days ago when I learned that a local follower of mine on twitter had attended the same college as the Man Unit. Granted, the Man Unit’s alma mater is very well known for its journalism program but it is in the Midwest and we are in New England. In a case of how small the world really is, it turns out that this woman had not only attended the same program as my husband but they actually had in the same graduating class and once I told her who my husband was, she knew who he was. Talk about a holy smokes the world is small moment.

Lately I have found myself thinking about how small the world is as readership of this space grows.  I am still amazed when someone in my local offline life tells me that they have read some of my work. Offline I actually don’t talk about my writing life. Until recently, I kept my career as a non-profit administrator separate from my blogging and writing hobby (possible second career), but in recent months that has proven harder to do as local papers here in the state of Maine have spoken with me on various issues. Some months back, a well-known Maine journalist tracked me down for some of my insights and a day after his piece ran, I found myself in a yoga class with a several people who had read not only my thoughts from the other writer’s piece but who had looked up my writings.

Last night, I came across a piece from a writer I admire on twitter, who had a friendly rant about how there is no separation between our online lives and our offline lives. The internet is here to stay and gone are the days when you can hide behind a fake photo and name and say whatever you want without it eventually being connected to you. I agree.

It’s one of the reasons that despite many well-meaning people suggesting, I tamp down my online hijinks or at the very least use locked accounts, I refuse to. For starters, I live in a small rural state and being online allows me better networking opportunities than I have available to me offline at the moment. Then there is that pesky fact that as a transplant who is over 30, meeting people is just hard. A decade here and while I know of a lot of people, I really have few people locally that I consider friends and the slightly sad fact is I met most of those people through online ventures, namely a now defunct local parenting discussion board. Lastly, I enjoy being online, it doesn’t interfere with my offline life. The day job gets done, the family is tended to, everyone’s needs are met, so why not?

I admit it is slightly unsettling to know that local people are reading read my work, but it actually means they are getting a chance to know me. Too often, we only see people in one dimensional ways often based on what they do for a living. Here, I strive for honesty at all times and if it offends, that’s okay too.

The world is an increasingly small place and no matter how some of us feel about that, no longer are our lives neatly compartmentalized. You don’t get be one person online and another offline and as uncomfortable as that feels it is reality. It means we all have to be a lot more intentional about who we are especially online since in this brave new world, even seemingly unrelated things such as jobs have been lost because of the disconnect in our lives. As crazy as it is, I am not sure that is a bad thing. In the past I have been told I over share, at least online, trust me there is nothing that I say in any space that I wouldn’t admit or share publicly.

It’s a small world now and it’s getting smaller yet it’s a great chance to define or redefine ourselves and be intentional and authentic in that process. So if you do nothing else in 2013, my two cents of advice is to be intentional in all that you do.

Honest is the only way and sometimes it means being open

Today I had planned to whip out a post about how I am a reluctant yogi but it seems that is a post for another day. Some days we choose our topics and some days our topics choose us and today it is the latter.

Last night I was at a work related meeting and the matter of this little ole blog came up, I generally don’t scream it from the roof tops that I blog, on the other hand I don’t hide it. Anyway someone who was not in the know asked the title of the blog and someone who was in the know replied “Its Black Girl in Maine”. The person not in the know gave that nervous chuckle and asked “Really” and the person in the know said “Yep” I do know that the person in the know aka one of my seven bosses does read my work and that at least one of my other bosses is aware of my work as she came to hear me speak several months ago.

Well after the meeting I made a random throw away tweet about the exchange and a well-meaning tweep suggested I put my blog on private which I know many people would do. After all for many of us these digital spaces can be deeply personal and do we really need or want people we know professionally being able to access our thoughts? In many cases the answer is no.

Funny thing is just a little while ago; I was catching up on some blog reading and read this amazing post. I have been a follower of Eren’s work for a while, always loving the visuals on her former blog The Vintage Chica. Eren had stopped blogging for a while and I was sad to see her go, figuring she had gone the way of a few of my other favorite bloggers, lost forever. No, it seems Eren regrouped and came back with a new blog, one that is raw and honest and this post just puts it all out there. It doesn’t get much more honest than admitting your spouse is dealing with mental illness, your marriage is in trouble and that you have a kid with issues. Funny thing is I could have written that post, all except for 1-2 details, hell I consider myself honest but even I have limits. Oh, I have danced around the issues but I suppose I am not ready to just lay them bare in this space.

In reading her post though, it made me think about my own writing and how I strive for honesty, yet even within my openness I have my barriers and limits. Yet in choosing the things that I have shared publically, I am often asked why? Well the simple why is at almost 39 years of age, why not? I am not a kid anymore and frankly life is simply easier when I am honest. I admit there are times I will share something in this space and have second thoughts but really being an open book is simply easier for me. My choice to be so open has resulted in professional opportunities and while I am sure there could be a backlash none of what I share anywhere impacts my work for either my employers or my clients. As someone who struggles with anxiety issues, I need my plate to be light and being myself whether in a digital capacity or face to face keeps the anxiety down. I spent a lot of years carrying a lot of secrets and when I decided that load was too heavy and decided to lighten it by being consistent across the board, it made a difference.

For some people they will never need nor feel the need to be open and that’s cool but I think for some of us the façade of being what we are not becomes such a burden that in being honest it means being open. If there is pushback at a certain point in life as an adult you are willing to accept that. I think part of getting older is simply not giving a shit as much; it’s the part of being almost middle aged that is really starting to resonate deeply with me. That frankly if being me is bothersome to someone that they simply don’t need to be in my world.